Killzone 2 - 2nd opinion

Another new addition to gameplay is how you can help your squad and vice versa when traversing walls and obstacles. Can’t reach that ledge? Just head over to it and one of your team will give you a boost with a tap of a button. And once you’re on top, it’s your turn to haul your squaddie up. It’s not groundbreaking (fans of Army of Two have seen it all before), nor is it worth making too much of a song and dance about, but it’s one more slick detail to add to Killzone 2’s mechanics that ensures the feeling of being ‘in’ the game never lets up.

Killzone 2’s most prolific addition is the implementation of the physics-heavy hit response system. Shoot a Helghan trooper in the leg and he’ll slam down face first into the crud. Take a shot at his shoulder or arm and he’ll clutch it in agony. Coolly, Guerrilla isn’t just implementing the hit response system for flashes, it’s taking it one step further. Said system is going to play an important part in the game when you encounter larger foes such as the mini-gun wielding Titan. Armoured to the hilt, he’s got a tank on his back that you need to hit, but first you have to spin him around by hitting him in the shoulder, then you take shots at the equipment on his back. And this guy is only a mini-boss, with promises of much bigger menaces to square off against.

“The mini-bosses are just that, a taste of what’s to come in the shape of some much greater bosses. We first did this with Killzone Liberation, and are now introducing them into Killzone 2,” hints Hulst of the punishing possibilities to come. Aside from both mini-bosses and their larger counterparts, you’re also going to operate some heavy artillery and Helghan-crushing tanks, but Hulst is coy on revealing any more details on what’s to come until a later date. “Without giving away too much at this stage, you can be sure there is more to play around with,” he says with a smile on his face, teasing us with the prospect of the sort of machinery we’re going to get behind the wheel of - although we do know the hovercraft you arrive on at the start of the mission comes back in to play and you can take control of an APC in mission three.

Approaching the end of the level, we got a taste for how Guerrilla has executed the use of the Sixaxis. Tasked with turning a valve to open up floodgates so ISA troops can pass through, you’re prompted to hold down L1 and R1 to grab the valve. From there you turn the pad like you would the valve if it were in your hands. It’s interesting, it feels natural and it doesn’t feel tacked on like a lot of Sixaxis control schemes. This moment piquedour interest for more glimpses of what the Dutch developer is doing with Sony’s wireless wonder.

One aspect on everyone’s lips was what Killzone 2 was going to offer in terms of multiplayer. Unfortunately, and as expected, everyone was keeping mum on any semblance of details Guerrilla has been working on. “Killzone 2’s multiplayer is a huge deal. We’re offering the player a unique multiplayer experience that we’ll be revealing more information on at a later time,” said Hulst as we tried to prod him for information on any online-planned Helghan hootenannies. Hulst did, however, assure us that the game would be supported once it shipped through the official website and the ever expanding PlayStation Network. “We have introducedKillzone.comto the community a while back and with Liberation we were able to offer unlockable rewards through that website. We will take that even further with Killzone 2, not only through the website, but also through new developments on PlayStation Network and the upcoming Home.”

With Brian Cox reprising his role as Emperor Visari, the return of Killzone’s Rico Valasquez, a planet that fights back, colossal setpieces, a glut of fierce blood-hungry bosses, plus the introduction of new lead character Sev and his gun crazy jarhead buddies Garza, Natko and Rico - Killzone 2 is really coming together.

And it all comes back to that video, which Hurst says serves as more of a blessing than a curse. When the first Killzone 2 trailer went live, the fanboys went nuts. (‘Was it in-game footage?’ ‘Of course it was!’ ‘How could it not be, the PS3 was the most powerful console’ etc.) In retrospect, Hurst is contemplative. “Had we not been in the situation to live up to that trailer, it most certainly would have been a curse. But because we feel we are in a position to reach that target, potentially even exceed it, I think it’s the best motivational tool that we ever created for ourselves.” Almost too soon, our time with him and the game comes to an end. Brave words. Bold statements.

Another delay to the release date ensures the Killzone 2 development saga will carry on into 2009, but after our play of this flagship shooter, every extra day Guerrilla gets on the Helghan homeworld tweaking, the better it is for everyone involved. So far, the wait is proving worthwhile.

May 16, 2008